David Cobb is National Projects Director of Democracy Unlimited. He is a lawyer, political activist, and engaged citizen. He has dedicated his adult life to making the promise of a democratic republic a reality in the United States.
He has sued corporate polluters, lobbied elected officials, run for political office himself, and has been arrested for non-violent civil disobedience. He truly believes we must use ALL the tools in the toolbox to effect the systemic social change we so desperately need.
His talk tonight: Creating Democracy and Challenging Corporate Rule
Section 1 [Corporations are not people and can be regulated]
The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons only.
Artificial entities, such as corporations, limited liability companies, and other entities, established by the laws of any State, the United States, or any foreign state shall have no rights under this Constitution and are subject to regulation by the People, through Federal, State, or local law.
The privileges of artificial entities shall be determined by the People, through Federal, State, or local law, and shall not be construed to be inherent or inalienable.
Section 2 [Money is not speech and can be regulated]
Federal, State and local government shall regulate, limit, or prohibit contributions and expenditures, including a candidate’s own contributions and expenditures, for the purpose of influencing in any way the election of any candidate for public office or any ballot measure.
Federal, State and local government shall require that any permissible contributions and expenditures be publicly disclosed.
The judiciary shall not construe the spending of money to influence elections to be speech under the First Amendment.
Nothing contained in this amendment shall be construed to abridge the freedom of the press.
What is Move to Amend’s position on the other proposals that have been proposed or introduced in Congress?
While it is exciting to see the flurry of momentum and energy that is finally getting some traction in a small segment of Congress, Move to Amend is very clear that it is important that we not let our goals be diluted by our legislators in Washington, even by those who mean well and want to see reform in our political system.
Passing an amendment will be a tough job, so the language must be commensurate with the effort needed to win, and the amendment must be strong and clear enough to end corporate rule – there’s no room here for half solutions or ambiguity.
It is our belief that we need to operate on the assumption that once an Amendment comes out of Congress we won’t get another shot. So we MUST get it right!
With many competing proposals, it can be confusing to figure out what is what in terms of what the proposals will actually do. We have prepared a summary of each of the amendments proposed, including what is missing from each one.
We also encourage you to check out our article, Why Abolish All Corporate Constitutional Rights, to explain why we feel so strongly that half-way solutions cannot be accepted.
The Move to Amend amendment will clearly establish that money is not speech, corporations are not people, and allows for no loopholes. Our amendment will put people in charge of our government, and corporations in their proper place.
What is your strategy to get this amendment passed?
Our strategy is to work on the local level before moving on to the state or federal level to build a grassroots movement organized and powerful enough to force Congress to act.
Our primary organizing tool is local resolution campaigns. Resolution campaigns are a powerful way for communities to send a message to Congress and let our representatives know we want them to act.
Click here for a list of resolutions that have been passed or are in progress. Our goal is to get 50 resolutions on local ballots for the Presidential Election in November 2012.
In 2011 Move to Amend groups in three communities (Madison, Boulder and Missoula) passed initiatives by overwhelming majorities. Many other towns and cities passed resolutions through their City Councils.
Why all this talk about democracy? Isn’t the United States a republic?
Our use of the term “democracy” is shorthand for what is technically our political system – a democratic republic with direct election by citizens of other citizens to represent us, We the People. “Democracy” accurately describes, however, the direct ability and power of citizens through education, advocacy and organizing to influence other citizens, the media and elected officials through organizations, campaigns and social movements.
“Democracy” is also an accurate description of the several ways We the People in many states directly govern and bypass elected representatives. These include the initiative, referendum and recall – the power of citizens to create laws, reverse laws and remove elected representatives.
Whether democracy, republic, or democratic republic, they (and we) are all effectively weakened when corporations possess inalienable constitutional rights to influence public opinion, shape public laws, mold public officials and intimidate public communities.